Pickled Turnips and Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad with Pickled Turnips {Gluten-Free, Vegetarian} | Wheat-Free Meat-Free

You are perhaps wondering how pickled turnips and lentil salad fit together.

When we first moved back to St. Louis, we went with Mike’s parents to a nearby Lebanese restaurant. I ordered a kabob. When it came out it had a little pile of hot pink vegetables on top. After some taste-testing we determined that they were pickled turnips. And they were good. I did my best to ration them out so I could have some in every bite. The kabob was tasty, but the reason I’m telling you this story two months later is because of the pickled turnips. They stole the show.

If it’s not obvious, I’ve been thinking about them ever since. I wanted to make the turnips, but I needed something to serve them over. Lentils always strike me as a Mediterranean food (especially since the mujadara). I figured I’d season them up with Mediterranean spices and use them as a base to show off my beautiful turnips.

And if you’ve been wondering, “but why are they are hot pink?” it’s because they’re pickled with a beet to give them color.

For the pickled turnips:

  • 4 small-medium turnips (~1 pound)
  • 1 small-medium beet
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  1. Wash and peel the turnips and beet. Slice into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. Pack into a quart jar, interspersing the beets between the turnips.
  2. Heat the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-heat until salt is dissolved. Pour over the turnips and beets. Push the garlic down into the jar.
  3. Seal the jar and refrigerate. Allow to sit 4-5 days before opening.

Makes 1 quart

For the lentils:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  1. Heat a medium-sized pot over medium-heat. Film the pot with oil. Add the onions and garlic, cook until onions are golden and just beginning to brown.
  2. Clear a spot in the pot and add the cumin, coriander and red pepper. Allow to become fragrant, about half a minute, then stir into the onions. Stir in the lentils, water, za’atar, and a large pinch of salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are tender and the water is mostly absorbed, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. Once the lentils are tender, remove from heat, angle the lid over the top of the pot and allow to rest about 10 minutes.

To assemble the salad:

  • 1 large head of romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large lemon, cut into wedges
  • 6-10 slices of pickled turnip (1-2 slices per serving), sliced into strips
  • cooked lentils from above
  1. Divide lettuce between bowls. Spoon a generous helping of lentils over the lettuce. Place turnips strips on top. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Serves 4-6

I kept the seasoning for the pickled turnips pretty basic. Many recipes include a dried chili for some heat. Celery leaves were another common ingredient.

Za’atar ┬áis a spice mixture from the Middle East. While the spices can vary, my mixture includes oregano, thyme, savory, sumac and sesame seeds.

The salad is equally good with warm or cold lentils. I find that a squeeze of lemon is all I need for dressing.

I’m sharing this recipe in My Legume Love Affair. It’s also appearing in Full Plate Thursday, Seasonal Sunday and Wellness Weekends.

Looking for More Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes?

Take a look at my book, The Wheat-Free Meat-Free Cookbook: 100 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes.

A sampling of the recipes included:
  • Breakfasts: Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins, Yeasted Waffles, Gooey Butter Cake,
  • Sides: Patatas Bravas, Pea and New Potato Salad, Braised Celery,
  • Mains: Corn Waffle Sandwiches, Enchiladas with Green Sauce, Pesto Asparagus Galette, and
  • Desserts: Blueberry Mango Crisp, Baklava Rolls, Amaretto Cake.

You can see the full recipe list on the Amazon page.


  1. Living in Toronto, I’ve heard a lot about pickled beets but never tasted them. Now I can make my own–yay! Thanks so much for submitting to WW this week! :)

  2. Your Pickled Turnips look amazing. We just love Turnips and and we will really enjoy this recipe. Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  3. Thanks for stopping by ladies!

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